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Toddler Spanking By Parents Common In The USA

Spanking of toddlers in the USA is more common than people realize, especially if parents are aggressive towards each other, according to a report published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Pediatrics, which revealed that 65% of young children were spanked at least once over a four-week period by one or both parents.

Catherine Taylor, PhD, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, and team set out to determine whether there was a link between parental use of corporal punishment and IPAV (intimate partner aggression or violence) in a population sample. The children in this study were all 3 years old.

The study involved 1,997 children from wave 3 of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. The researchers analyzed parental reports about their use of corporal punishment, as well as partner aggression or violence.

The study revealed that:
About 65% of the 3-year-olds were spanked once or more during the preceding month, by at least one parent.
Of the partners who acknowledged family aggression (87%), over half reported occurrence(s) of corporal punishment and partner aggression or violence.
Bilateral IPAV or aggression towards the child were the most common patterns of co-occurrence. (Bilateral IPAV means partner aggression towards each other)
If bilateral IPAV occurred, the risk of corporal punished for the child doubled. Even when depression, alcohol, drug abuse and other factors were taken into account.
The researchers concluded that corporal punishment remains common in the USA, despite recommendations against its use by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics).

The authors added:

CP prevention efforts should carefully consider assumptions made about patterns of co-occurring aggression in families, given that adult victims of IPAV, including even minor, nonphysical aggression between parents, have increased odds of using CP with their children.

According to Save the Children, physical (corporal) punishment is:

..the use of physical force intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort for discipline, correction, and control, changing behavior or in the belief of educating/bringing up the child.
"Use of Spanking for 3-Year-Old Children and Associated Intimate Partner Aggression or Violence"
Catherine A. Taylor, PhD, MSW, MPH, Shawna J. Lee, PhD, MSW, MPP, Neil B. Guterman, PhD, Janet C. Rice, PhD
Pediatrics August 23rd. doi:10.1542/peds.2010-0314

Written by Christian Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today


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